By DAN KARELL
It was only a matter of time before the fiery battle in Ukraine’s capital of Kiev would affect the soccer world.
Moments before Spanish club Valencia were to board a flight to Kiev, UEFA stepped in and moved their upcoming Europa League match against Dynamo Kiev to Nicosia, Cyprus. According to reports, Kiev were reluctant to move the match at first but finally came to an agreement over the new venue.
The match will now take place at 7pm local time at GSP Stadium in Nicosia.
Violent clashes in the last 24 hours between protesters and police in Kiev have reportedly left at least 25 people dead and many more injured on both sides. The leaders of the protest movement and the President of Ukraine have failed to come to an agreement to end the fighting.
The U.S. Men’s National Team is still scheduled to play Ukraine in the eastern city of Kharkiv on March 5, though the team and the U.S. government are monitoring the situation.
Here are some more stories to start off your Wednesday:
HERNANDEZ, GUARDADO, DOS SANTOS HEADLINE EL TRI CALL-UPS FROM EUROPE
Some of Mexico’s top players in Europe have been recalled into the Mexican National Team for their final FIFA-date friendly before the 2014 World Cup.
Manchester United’s Javier Hernandez, Bayer Leverkusen’s Andres Guardado, and Villarreal’s Giovani Dos Santos were among eight European-based players named to El Tri’s squad for a friendly match against Nigeria on March 5 in Atlanta. Joining those three are embattled goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, Javier Aquino, Hector Moreno, and FC Porto duo Hector Herrera and Diego Reyes.
It’s the first time that the European-based players have been called into a Miguel Herrera coached team, after the El Tri boss decided to select a domestic-based squad for the World Cup qualifying playoff matches against New Zealand.
SANTOS LAGUNA CONTINUE EARLY COPA LIBERTADORES SUCCESS
In only their second-ever appearance in the Copa Libertadores, Santos Laguna are already looking like regulars in the competition.
Facing one of the tournament’s most successful sides, Peñarol of Uruguay, Santos Laguna came out with a 2-0 victory on the road to jump five points clear at the top of Group 8. Jonathan Laserda broke the deadlock with a first-time finish in the box in the 54th minute off a cross from teammate Darwin Quintero. In stoppage time, Jose Abella finished off the match on the counter-attack, scoring past Peñarol goalkeeper Juan Castillo to win the match for the Mexican club.
Elsewhere in Copa Libertadores action, Ecuadorian side Independiente Del Valle drew with Chile’s Union Española, 2-2. Union Española’s Cristian Chavez, formerly of Lanus and Boca Juniors, scored and assisted in the draw.
Barcelona midfielder Xavi equaled the 144 games-played record in the UEFA Champions League set by Raul, the most games played in the competition by a Spaniard. (REPORT)
Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher has earned his first call up to the Scotland National Team since 2012. (REPORT)
Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer believes Julian Draxler should remain at FC Schalke instead of moving away to Arsenal or even Bayern. (REPORT)
Nearly three-fourths of the Stadio Olimpico will be closed for AS Roma’s match on March 1 against Inter Milan because of racist chanting from fans. (REPORT)
Arsenal’s 18-year-old winger Serge Gnabry has stated he wants to continue playing for Germany in the future, despite also being eligible to play for Ivory Coast through his father. (REPORT)
West Ham’s Ravel Morrison has agreed to move to Queens Park Rangers in the English Championship on a 93-day loan. (REPORT)
What do you think of these reports? Do you agree with UEFA’s decision? Think that it should have been made much sooner? Think that El Tri’s European-based players can blend into Herrera’s system?
Share your thoughts below.